The Way of Shadows
Book One of The Night Angel Trilogy
by Brent Weeks
Fantasy | 645 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2011
| Rating |
This novel had been hiding on my bookshelf for so long that it’d become a part of the scenery. When I finally remembered it existed, dusted it off and got around to reading it, I was instantly hooked. The Way of Shadows is a non-stop, action-packed, thrill ride which remains tense, dramatic and intriguing throughout; leaving me with only one question – why on earth didn’t I read this sooner?
The perfect killer has no friends, only targets. For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir.
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.
But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.
The first two thirds of the book builds up the world and the characters, exploring their motivations and the various intrigues, wars and conflicts which plague the world of Midcyru. The plot twists and turns, the characters are all spurred by conflicting motivations and the potential for ruthless savagery at all times combine to keep you guessing right until the last moment. The last third of The Way of Shadows is a non-stop whirlwind of deadly action which I couldn’t get enough of. The fight scenes were beautifully written and choreographed; violent and bloody, throwing you right into the fray. If Shadow’s Edge starts where this book left off then readers are certainly in for a treat.
Midcyru is a vibrant and realistic world with enough description to add depth and perspective whilst keeping the narrative moving forwards. It may take a few mentions to absorb all the different names of places and peoples but this isn’t a short novel, there are plenty of opportunities for soaking up all the detail. And sure, the term ‘wetboy’ is a little silly and incongruous with being a super-assassin but I still wouldn’t laugh in Durzo Blint’s face. This is a skilfully drawn out world populated by a myriad of fantastic characters which by all accounts will only get better.
Azoth is a great protagonist whose motivations are well thought out and implemented. I loved Momma K and Logan, who are both wonderfully contrasting characters with a lot of hidden depth. Durzo Blint is ruthless, merciless and absolutely fascinating; I couldn’t get enough of him. The horde of side characters are all intriguing, interesting and add more substance to the world… and who doesn’t love an absurdly weak and dangerously stupid king? The Way of Shadows is chock full of characters to love and hate with plenty of room left for growth and development in the rest of the trilogy.
The Way of Shadows is a great debut novel which surpassed all my expectations. If you’re looking for a whirlwind of fantasy action then look no further than The Night Angel Trilogy; Brent Weeks thoroughly deserves his reputation as a great storyteller and I am just itching to get my hands on the next book.